In church on Good Friday, readers gave voice to the account of the crucifixion. But I scarcely wanted to listen as the stripes, the crown of thorns, and more were made audible. I diverted eye contact.
Hearing the suffering of my precious Lord brings sorrow. Perhaps this reflects, in a limited and human manner, God’s response to mankind’s wickedness: “And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart” (Genesis 6:6).
I wonder if some of God’s grief here is related to Jesus’s sorrow in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-56), that mankind’s sin would bring future agony to Jesus. But I know that God does not only grieve; he also compassionately rejoices that his cross would accomplish mankind’s hope (Hebrews 12:2).
So, I call us there—to the day Jesus died—in order to witness some facets of hope evident in this account. I begin with Jesus being handed over to death after his trial, flogging, and crowning with thorns.
Hope of Holiness
So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.
There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. (John 19:16-18)
Hebrews 13:11-13 reveals a parallel between the phrase “he went out” and the Old Testament sin offering. For this offering, the sacrifice was brought into the holy place, but then the body of the animal sacrificed was taken outside of camp to be burned.
In the Old Testament, holiness was determined by the proximity to the Most Holy Place. First the camp, then the tabernacle court, then the Holy Place, and finally the Most Holy Place.
What was deemed unholy was taken farthest away from the Most Holy Place—somewhere even beyond the camp. Jesus, the holy and perfect, was disgraced and taken “outside the camp” for his crucifixion.
Could it be that an outside-of-camp person like me could be restored through him—taken to the holiness of God because he “went out”?
I have this hope of holiness through perfect Christ.
Hope of a Leader
Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek.
So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’ Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” (John 19:19-22)
The Jewish religious leaders resented the teachings of Jesus and the following he had. They did not recognize him as their Messiah because their hearts took pride in their status as leaders and not in their God. But Jesus’s status as King did not alter because of this unwelcoming reception.
The account continues with a fulfilled prophecy:
When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic.
But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.”
This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” (John 19:23-24)
Here was the one about whom Old Testament prophets spoke. This prophetic fulfillment was very specific and remarkably fulfilled by these soldiers—giving further Scriptural demonstration to Jesus’s messianic kingship.
Could it be that I have a proven, trusted, and unchanging foretold leader King who is able to lead me toward knowing and loving him more?
I have this hope of the one and only righteous King.
Hope of Care
So the soldiers did these things, but standing by the cross of Jesus werehis mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!”
Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:24-27)
Jesus looked and saw his mother from the cross—he knew that this death would uniquely impact her and her future.
He defined the arrangements for his mother’s care, who was most likely a widow without income. He spoke with words full of the intentions he had for her, that she would sense belonging, care, and love—and experience support and stability.
While dying and being crucified, Jesus cared for his soon-to-be bereaved mother.
Could it be that Jesus wants me to see his concerted, personal care for family when I think of his crucifixion—and it is so significant as to interrupt the account of his crucifixion? Could it be that, when thinking of the personally caring character of God, it is not an “interruption” at all, but only a small demonstration of the care he was already demonstrating on the cross?
I have hope of a Lord who cares personally.
Hope of Being Covered
After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth.
When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:28-30)
With a single word in Greek (tetelestai) he spoke, “It is finished.” According to The Bible Knowledge Commentary, this same word was used across receipts for taxes in Jesus’s time. This word meant “paid in full.”
Jesus declared that sins would certainly be forgiven because of his sacrifice—fully, in totality, and to the uttermost.
Could it be that across me, covering everything that is wrong and guilt-inducing, I can know Jesus writes tetelastai—paid in full?
I have this hope of knowing, by faith, he has forgiven me.
And can it be that I should gain
An int’rest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, should die for me?
And we can receive. When we welcome what he has freely done, we become reasons for the joy of his endurance of the cross.
This post was originally published at Unlocking the Bible.